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On a crystal clear Mediterranean day, Briony McAllister sits playing with her four-year-old daughter, Katie, while she waits for her mother, Valerie, to join them. Valerie has recently moved to a picturesque town in southern Spain to finally leave behind her turbulent past and find a peace that has always eluded her. Briony has no idea that in a few moments' time her relationship with her mother will change irrevocably. As Katie plays, Briony pulls from her bag an old photo album, found in a box in her mother's new home. As she begins to study the faded photos, a letter falls to the ground. It is addressed to her. My Darling Briony, it begins. As Briony reads the words with mounting shock, realisation dawns. Her mother lied to her about what happened with her beloved grandmother Tessa all those years ago - and denied Briony that most precious of relationships, the type of relationship Valerie now enjoys with Katie. The lives of three generations of women are set to change forever as the past is revisited and the truth unfolds through the undelivered letters Tessa wrote to Briony over the years. Secrets, lies, betrayals and sacrifices - the complex bonds between mothers, daughters and granddaughters are intricately explored as Patricia Scanlan takes us into the hearts and homes of a family at war.
I read over 200+ books in a year and I’m in my early thirties so really by now, I should know that when someone told me that it’s a heart-warming novel that it will be a gut-wrenching, tear-ducts-squeezing, and heart-lightening sort of tale. I wasn’t feeling the best this week and mid-reading, I was questioning myself why I’m reading a book that tightened the feelings in my heart but of course, in the end, it works wonders as a balm to my blue week.

An old letter, forgotten and shoved away, fell out of a photo album and tore open the past. Valerie thought she had put the past behind and closed all the doors but this discovery of a letter addressed to her daughter, Briony, has brought all the memories back vividly and is a threat to their relationship as a family. A decision of the past, made in anger, with long reaching consequences has haunted her and now she may lose the most precious thing in her life. To save her family, and herself, Valerie needed to confront the past and resolve this enmity between herself and Briony's grandmother, Tessa.

Valerie and Tessa never truly got on. Tessa loved her youngest son, Jeff, and wished him all the best things in the world but she just wasn’t sure if Valerie was the best thing for him. Valerie loved Jeff like no other before or after and she felt keenly of Tessa’s dislike of her. She also thought that Tessa was interfering in their lives a little too much. Whilst a truce was called after the birth of Briony, Jeff’s death brought both women to say unforgivable things to each other. A rift, larger than before, was formed with neither party willing to negotiate.

The story was mostly told from the perspective of Valerie with tonnes of flashbacks as to what had happened to bring her to her current predicament. There are two sides to every story though and we, as readers, are also given bits and pieces of Tessa’s perspective to allow understanding. Whilst her perspective told me enough to understand her side of the story, I did wish for more, for a flashback to Tessa’s younger self and what she went through.

A novel which tells the strength of women in all kinds of trials and the power of forgiveness with stories that will resonate with all women in all stages of life. Whether you are young and in love, a young mother, a single mother, a mother with grown children, a grandmother, etc, this novel will speak to each part of your life. I am a young mother myself and yet I found myself nodding, chuckling & tutting, sympathising with all the women (3 generations worth) in this novel. This is not a novel you’d read for the surprising or shocking revelations, but to enjoy every aspects of womanhood with all that entails.

Thank you, Simon and Schuster and The Reading Room for providing copy of book in exchange of honest review.

The 18th novel by best selling women's fiction author Patricia Scanlan, With All My Love is a moving story of betrayal and forgiveness as three generations of women attempt to repair their shattered bonds.

Though the memories are hazy, Briony recalls the loving care and attention her grandmother, Tessa Egan, lavished upon her as a small child and how desperately hurt she was when her mother, Valerie, told four year old Briony that Gramma didn't want to see her anymore. Thirty years later, while helping her mother to settle in Spain, Briony is devastated to learn that Valerie lied and deliberately excluded her deceased father's family from her life.

For Briony, discovering the letter from her Gramma is a painful reminder of her childhood grief and she is furious with her mother's deception. Confronted with her daughter's anger, Valerie is forced to reexamine the circumstances that led to her decision to cut Tessa and her family out of their lives. As the novel unfolds, Scanlan delves into the complicated bond between Valerie and Tessa with stunning insight into the fraught tensions of such a relationship.

Scanlan masterfully reveals the conflict between Valerie and Tessa, exposing their hidden jealousies and insecurities, creating believable characters that garner both scorn and sympathy. Valerie and Tessa are complex characters with motives that are simultaneously sound and irrational. Tessa believes she is protecting Jeff when she opposes his marriage to Valerie and Valerie believes she needs to protect Briony from Tessa's controlling nature when she forbids contact after Jeff's sudden death. It is much easier to empathise with Valerie whose difficult home life leaves her vulnerable and who is genuinely heartbroken by Jeff's refusal to marry her. Tessa is difficult to like as she is often demanding, self centered and refuses to accept any responsibility for the rift. Yet Scanlan is careful to show how both women contributed to the consequences for Briony.

A compelling, poignant examination of relationships, motherhood, secrets, betrayal and the unbreakable bond of family, All My Love is brought to an eminently satisfying conclusion as the women seek forgiveness. This is a wonderful novel sure to hit the bestseller list.

Freo Docker
Dare I say it; I enjoyed this book more than I ever enjoyed anything by Maeve Binchy. I only say this because Patricia Scanlan has been described as being “destined to be the next Maeve Binchy” whereas I think she will be better! A big ask, I realise, and I can see Binchy lovers everywhere shaking their heads, but I was honestly surprised at the brilliance of this new novel. It will possibly sound more than a bit corny, but “With All My Love” truly touched me and I will never forget this story. Potential readers should get themselves some tissues, a flask of tea, some sweets and at least half a day at the end of the reading to just enjoy the feeling that comes from having read this great book.

Where to begin… With All My Heart is a very heart-warming journey of betrayal, forgiveness, secrets, family and above all love. I fell in love with the characters that were created in this book. Patricia Scanlan has an amazing way of telling her tale that you just can’t help but relate to the attitudes and feelings and even the behaviours of each of the characters, so therefore you just have to fall in love with them.

Briony McAllister is a 30 year old mother to a 4 year old girl, Katie. Briony’s mother, Valerie has moved to Spain and Briony has taken Katie over to help settle her in. While going through old photo albums a letter falls out and it is addressed to Briony. Briony has no idea why her mother had a letter addressed to her and hadn’t passed it on. Upon reading the letter, Briony is mortified that her mother has kept a horrible secret for all these years and kept her from the relationship with her Grandmother, Tessa.

Valerie is beside herself with grief that Briony had found the letter after all these years. How could she have been so careless? Going back over her memories all those years ago, Valerie tries to discover what and why it happened?... Valerie Harris is an ordinary teenage girl living her life of fun, school and parties. She doesn’t have a very happy relationship with her father, he only thinks of money and society. Valerie starts seeing this boy, Jeff and snuck out to see Queen, her first live concert with him. She thinks she has escaped without being caught only to get busted the next day. Her father lashes out at her and destroyed what relationship they did have, but this at least brings her mother out of her shell and Carmel is now sticking up for her daughter, Valerie. Valerie and Jeff go along and their relationship blossoms. Jeff’s mother, Tessa, can’t take to Valerie though and everything she does seems to put Tessa on edge. This is just the beginning of their story…..

This book tells the story of the three women (Briony, Valerie and Tessa) all linked together by family. It tells of their own lives, growing and becoming mothers; their hardships; their sacrifices; their relationships with each other, but also with their own separate families. The stories are all interwoven with each other brilliantly and the humour that the story includes just brings everything closer to mind and reality to the reader. All the detailing from the different times, right down to the leg warmers, technology and the way everybody spoke was amazing and so vivid. Just a warning though when reading this book, make sure you have a box of tissues on hand, because when you fall in love with Valerie and her life, the tears just start falling along with hers.

One of my favourite quotes: “Yikes, you nearly got Jeff Egan in the goolies!” snorted Lizzie. ~ Ha, thought this was so funny.


Say hello to author Patricia Scanlan whose new book With All My Love is out now!